Jewish worshippers take part in the priestly blessing at the Western Wall
Jewish worshippers take part in the priestly blessing at the Western Wall. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi / JINI
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Lord of Hosts, I don't know if You read Shana Tova greetings by Yourself. I know You have staff. But on the chance that they forward to You, and that this one makes it past the interns, here's what I'm thinking this year:

May this be a year of unexpected peace.

And let it be on us.

You've done more than Your share. You invented life itself, breath, free will, children. You designed and assembled us with the capacity to love, to comprehend mirrors, to regret, to do over. Just this once, let us show you what we've got. This year, this Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, take the day off.

We have work to do.

Surely there's much of this that You don't need - all our exalting You and beating ourselves up. Not sure if You can appreciate the great cooking. Nor do I know what possible good to You could come of our  standing up and sitting down, and then standing up until we can concentrate on little except standing up.

It's the other part that You may need. The part in which we look at our lives and Your world, and with our battered expectations and our punctured hopes, try to revive our belief that peace is a possibility.

We have work to do.

This holiday of Yours, this anniversary of Your creation of the world and all that lives therein, means nothing if we have lost faith in peace between people, and, especially, in peace between peoples. And we have.

This is about us down here. This is about us believing that, more than anything, a New Year offers our calloused hearts and our realism-calcified heads, hope of the unexpected good, the entirely unforeseen small miracle, the wholly irrational positive outcome.

In recent years, it has become the fashion in some circles of our people, to speak of peace in a dark past tense. There are those who speak of peace as if peace itself were an old and defeated enemy. There are those who speak of peace, in particular a peace of compromise between Israel and the Palestinians, in terms once reserved for the tribe of Amalek - unlikely ever to be revived, but, should it come back to life, the duty of the Good Jew to battle to the death.

We have work to do.

I have friends who believe that, at best, peace is unattainable, and, at worse, a recipe for annihilation. Who knows – by the end of this New Year we may find that they were tragically right.

Until then, however, I have work to do.

I believe in this New Year. I believe in the many, many people, on my side, the other side, and no particular side, who are working as hard as they can for peace and fairness and humane living, within Israel and between Israel and its neighbors.

I still believe in the tools of peace. I believe in voting. I believe in individuals and groups who are rebuilding human bridges demolished in fire and terror and war and enforced separation. I believe in talking with people whom history and geography and extremisms of faith and behavior have made my formal enemy.
I believe that God's favorite religion is not Judaism nor Islam nor Christianity. I believe that God's true religion is peace.

So this holiday season, I'm leaving You alone to do what You like.
And may this be a year of unexpected peace.